Five Favorite Films with Ewan McGregor

Plus, the star of this week's Salmon Fishing in the Yemen on working with director Lasse Hallström and cracking up with Emily Blunt.

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In addition to being immeasurably charming, the rather talented Ewan McGregor has been a mainstay of interesting performances on film for the better part of two decades now. From his early Danny Boyle breakouts through his roles for the likes of Todd Haynes, Peter Greenaway, Steven Soderbergh and Roman Polanski, the actor's delivered consistently creative work; even when the movies were less than stellar (you know what we're talking about), his performances always rose above the material. And when the great Christopher Plummer took home his Supporting Actor Oscar recently, he could thank McGregor's equally nuanced (though largely unsung) turn in Beginners for providing him with the emotional anchor.

In this week's Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, McGregor takes up the piscatorial mantle of one Dr. Alfred Jones, a Scottish fisheries boffin reluctantly convinced by an angling-enthused sheik (Amr Waked) and his feisty investment adviser (Emily Blunt) to assist them in their crazy desert scheme. Not too many actors can wear a khaki fishing vest and make it look good, but then not too many actors get away with impersonating Sir Alec Guinness, either.

We spoke to McGregor recently about the movie, during which time he was also happy to talk about some of his favorite films. "But you should make sure that it's five of my favorite films," he qualifies, "and not my top five films. It's definitely not my all-time favorite films, 'cause then I would have to sit down and think about it more clearly." Duly noted, sir. Read on for more of the interview.


Harvey (Henry Koster; 1950; 83% Tomatometer)

Well, Harvey I've always loved because Jimmy Stewart's one of my all time favorite actors and I think it's just an incredible performance from him. It's a very, very moving performance. It's a really lovely character that he has to play.




Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972; 94% Tomatometer)

Deliverance, I just think is a really incredibly made film -- made by John Boorman, who was an incredible director. And I just think it's a film where you kind of get into the heart and soul of these people and it unsettles you. It's very frightening 'cause it makes you feel like you could be there, and "What would you do in this situation?"




Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975; 100% Tomatometer)

Jaws, 'cause it's Jaws, and it's just a huge, brilliantly made film with rich characters and huge suspense -- and a monster that we'd never seen before that happens to be a real one, that we've all been frightened of ever since.

Did you and Emily conspire to pick Jaws together?

No -- did she pick Jaws too?

It was her number one choice. I think she was promoting "fish" movies.

[Laughs]




Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper; 1969; 85% Tomatometer)

Easy Rider, 'cause it symbolizes a sort of search for freedom...

And you love motorcycles. [McGregor produced and starred in the TV series Long Way Down, about two friends on a cross-continental motorcycle ride.]

And I love motorcycles. But I also love the way it was made: like they went on a bike trip and they shot it and they made the film up as they went along, I think -- and it feels like that. It feels very real. And it's also circling this very horrible acid trip in it, which really freaks me out.

Right. There's no film, except maybe The Wild Angels, quite like it.

Yeah. I don't think there's any film really like it. It's got a very cool opening, too, with the drug run to the airport. Very cool.




Doctor Zhivago (David Lean; 1965; 85% Tomatometer)

And then Doctor Zhivago, 'cause it's a lesson in filmmaking. It's like a master class in how to shoot and act and light and it makes me very depressed watching it, because we don't make films like that any more -- and I wish we did.



Next, McGregor talks Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, working with Lasse Hallström and keeping a straight face on set with Emily Blunt.

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